Thursday, July 2, 2009

Hurricane Preparedness: The Oddball Bits

[NB I was going to post this a few weeks ago but it's been so quiet until recently that I forgot about it. ]

Today's discussion centers around evacuation procedures. We're not talking about which route to take or when to get --that's for another time. This is the oddball "dang I shoulda thought of that!" discussion.

  1. Gas in the vehicle really isn't about being ready to evacuate pre-storm, it's about being ready post-storm. Unless you live in N'awlins or Galveston or a similar low area, you generally don't consider evacuation unless 120+ winds are going to be coming to your immediate neighborhood. Well and good, you get to do triage to your property and get your pics for the adjuster (aside: wonder if you can pre-schedule one ahead of a storm...?), but if the power is out for a few days --or worse, the water pressure goes out and there's no drinking water --you're going to think about leaving, and then it hits you: you can't get gas because the stations are closed in your area. Or the refineries won't start deliveries for a few days. Whatever. Same problem: you don't have gas. Helpful hint: you have a boat that doesn't make you pre-mix the oil into the gas? Then you have a back-up gas source! Just make sure you have some kind of siphon hose and don't swallow!

  2. Obviously the preferable option is to evacuate well in advance of a coming storm, but if you choose to ride it out (and can do so safely), you need to have your game plan laid out for post-storm evacuation. I can guarantee that every hotel, motel, guest lodge and bed/breakfast within 300 miles is going to be booked up solid. Make nice-nice with in-laws, old college roomies or third cousins (this may mean reciprocity agreements and/or barbeque dinners) and have your options all laid out.

  3. Your animals are not going to evacuate themselves, nor do they know how to operate a can-opener if you are not present. Any evacuation plans should include dealing with family pets. I will point out (as a custodian of 30+ years experience) that cats with outdoors experience and access to an ant-free dry food dispenser and a large water supply may be left alone for a few days or even a week, but that's in extremis, and certainly you should never leave a cat behind to face a storm alone, even if they have indoor/outdoor capability (pet door). Dogs can't be trusted to conserve food, they will gorge on dry food until it runs out and then they will go hungry. The best option is to evacuate cats and dogs along with everyone else. Birds, too! Aquarium fish, alas, are generally out of luck.

  4. Before you leave, make sure you're not setting up nasty surprises for yourself upon return. Shut off the electricity, or leave only the breaker for the refrigerator and the freezer. Ditto the natural gas, and if you don't know where your cut-off valve is, shame on you. Secure your outside --there have been lawsuits involving wind-blown items crashing into someone else's house from someone else's property (think "reasonable expectations" and you have the basis of a tort). Board or tape windows, and secure doors. Locate ahead of time the neighborhood diehard who will not evacuate unless the storm surge is over 15' in the immediate vicinity, and bring him (or her) beer, hard liquor and/or ammunition and make nice-nice. This is the person who will be standing tall until you get back.

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